Welcome to the first Feastivals Field trip! What is a Feastivals field trip you ask? Well, there are plenty of food festivals around Amsterdam where I live, but sometimes I hear about an event outside of town either in the Netherlands or in a European country nearby that draws me. The very first Feastivals field trip it to Preuvenemint in Maastricht in the Southernmost Dutch province of Limburg.
The Field Trip:
Straddling the Meuse river, the city of Maastricht lays claim to being one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. Since the time of the Romans, it has been an important center of religion, culture, and strategic value to Northern Europe. It even holds the distinction of being the birthplace of the European Union and the Euro as the Maastricht Treaty was drafted here.
The 34th annual Preuvenemint
Declaring itself the largest eating festival in the Netherlands, how could I possibly say no to going to a brand new (to me) city to check it out. My first impression was confusion. This is not a food truck style affair. Instead the festival grounds were a mass of tents each representing a local restaurant or brand. Each tent did indeed have food, but the menu at each tent was a small collection of tastes from the larger menu of the restaurant the tent was representing. Each tent also seemed to have a sizeable kitchen capable of producing much more elaborate fare than what I’m used to at an outdoor event.
The amount of square footage each tent occupied dwarfed what each truck would take up in a food truck festival and each was filled to the brim with bars and high top tables. This was quite confusing to me until I started talking to locals to get an understanding of what this festival is all about. While food is, forgive the pun, on the menu, this is much more of a drinkers event. When I came back to the square in the evening the place was slammed with locals dressed to the nines yucking it up and drinking waaaay more than they were eating. To each their own of course, but I came for the food.
As the movie Ratatouille teaches us, the best food is food that evokes memory. This dish blew me away because it included an element in the form of the tom kha kai cream/mouse/dream that just rocked my world. I often cook this Thai soup at home and I know its flavors very well. This dish delivered on transforming that dish I love into something profoundly different. Also, it was topped with fried chicken skin. Fried chicken skin is basically cheating. I’ve got my eye on you Le Bon Vivant.
Just look at that. Molecular gastronomy isn’t exactly my bag, but look at it. My grandparents wouldn’t have even recognized that as food. De Haselderhof.
Best tent goes to Fameus. I love the visual theme of the Dia de los Muertos sugar skulls. The most confusing aspect of this is that this ISN’T a Mexican or Spanish restaurant — It’s Italian. Confusing, but beautiful. Such is art.
Lagniappe (A Little Something Extra):
In South Louisiana we have a phrase, Lagniappe, that people use when they give you just a little more — a little something extra. I loved the dish I had from Le Bon Vivant so much that I returned to Preuvenement later the same evening to taste the rest of the dishes offered by chef Chef Björn Dijkstra.